Thursday, 30 June 2011

Knesset set to pass anti-democratic law making it illegal to call for a boycott of the Israeli state


From Mondoweiss

What will those modern-day McCarthys in the Israeli Knesset think up next?

By now we’ve all become accustomed to the creepy, liberty-limiting laws emerging every few months or so from the right-wing (though hardly always right-wing) precincts of the Israeli Knesset. I’m thinking, of course, of the Nakba law, the Loyalty Oath law, the law requiring NGO’s to declare their sources of funding, and so on and so on and so on. But the last few weeks have seen a flurry of anti-Democratic efforts that have been impressive even by the current Knesset’s standards. There was the bill proposed earlier this month by four right-wing members of Knesset that would give the government the power to disband existing NGOs and refuse to register new ones if they “deny the Jewish character of the State” – a clear jab at the country’s Arab population. More recently, on Sunday, two proposals were presented to the Ministerial Legislation Committee, each designed to limit the amount of money “political” NGOs can receive from foreign entities – and foreign entities, by the way, include the United Nations and the European Union.

Now there is “The Bill to Prevent Harm to the State of Israel Through Boycotts.” That’s right, a law that would make it a civil violation to call publicly for a boycott of the State of Israel.

The latest version of this law, which is a flagrant strike at democracy, free speech, and the right to resist, passed the Knesset’s farcically-named Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee on Monday. This means the bill has a strong chance of becoming law soon. The bill targets “anyone who publishes a public call for a boycott of the State of Israel” and threatens them with a fine to be determined by the courts. In addition, the bill takes direct aim at NGOs that support boycotts by threatening to retract or deny their tax exempt status. more

Texas governor wants to jail holocaust survivor and Alice Walker for taking letters to Gaza


(pic: Auschwitz survivor and pro-Palestine activist Hedy Epstein is being threatened with a three-year prison sentence by Texas governor Rick Perry)

The state of Texas is in the habit of jailing black people and, like the rest of the Deep South, has never been too keen on Jewish people either (yes, we remember the US civil rights movement), which partly explains the truly sickening remarks of the governor of that state who is demanding the incarceration of any US citizen who sails to Gaza with the flotilla. Not a word about Israel's illegal blockade and the continuing collective punishment of 1.5 million people. Story below from the Washington Post
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Rick Perry urged the U.S. attorney general to take action Wednesday against Americans who plan to take part in a pro-Palestinian protest by sailing to the Gaza Strip to challenge an Israeli naval blockade.

Perry wrote that he had information that American citizens were aboard two U.S.-flagged ships that plan to challenge the blockade on the Gaza Strip. He urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to take legal steps to stop them from taking part, or to prosecute them if they make the attempt.

“The state of Israel is a friend and critical ally of the United States, and the only stable democracy in an increasingly unstable and hostile region,” wrote Perry, a vocal supporter of Israel who is considering a run for president in 2012. “These initiatives to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip is an unacceptable provocation.”

Under federal law, anyone who “prepares a means for, or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition” against a friendly country can be fined or jailed for three years. Perry also suggested that Holder prosecute the protesters for providing materials or assistance to a terrorist organization. more

US boat to sail 'imminently' despite Netanyahu's baseless claims about 'efforts to smuggle missiles'


(pic: US boat, The Audacity of Hope, awaits departure in Greek dock as part of Gaza-bound international flotilla [MaanImages/Mya Gu)

ATHENS, Greece (Ma'an) -- Organizers of a US boat participating in the Gaza-bound flotilla said Thursday afternoon that they hoped to sail "very very soon," with some expecting an immanent departure.

Speaking to reporters and passengers alongside the ship, organizer Anne Wright said "we will sail to challenge the naval blockade of Gaza ,we have ten ships, we have passengers aged 22-87 ... we have carpenters, retirees, acupuncturists; these are the people that the state of Israel fears."

Organizers stressed, following a press inspection of the ship, that the 3,000 letters from Americans to the Palestinians in Gaza were not "very dangerous cargo." more

Meanwhile Netanyahu continues with his fantastical rants in his very own parallel universe:
Speaking at IAF pilot's graduation, Netanyahu praises int'l leaders for working against Gaza-bound "provocation flotilla"; says Hamas holding Schalit in "criminal captivity".

Israel is fully entitled to work against attempts by the upcoming Gaza-bound "provocation flotilla" to smuggle arms into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a speech to graduating cadets of the IAF Pilot's Course at the Hatzerim Air Base near Beersheba on Thursday.

"Israel has the full right to operate against efforts to smuggle missiles, rockets and other weapons to Hamas's terror enclave. Hamas is a ruthless enemy, who maliciously harms our cities and children," Netanyahu said at the graduation ceremony. more

Sabotage of Irish Ship to Gaza M.V. Saoirse in Turkey 'an act of international terrorism'


Sabotage of M.V. Saoirse in Turkey
'an act of international terrorism'

The Irish-owned ship, the MV Saoirse, that was meant to take part in Freedom Flotilla 2 has been sabotaged in a dangerous manner in the Turkish coastal town of Göcek, where it had been at berth for the past few weeks. Visual evidence of the undership sabotage, which was carried out by divers, will be presented today at a press conference in Dublin at 11am in Buswell's Hotel. Photographs and video footage of the damage are available from the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign.

Concerns for the boat first emerged on Monday evening following a short trip near the Göcek marina and an inspection was carried out by divers and by skipper Shane Dillon on Tuesday morning. Evidence was found that the shaft of the starboard propeller has been interfered with and it was decided to take the boat out of the water for a further visual inspection. On Wednesday, the boat was put on land at a local shipyard and the extent of the sabotage was immediately visible.

The propeller shaft had been weakened by saboteurs who cut, gouged or filed a piece off the shaft. This had weakened the integrity of the shaft, causing it to bend badly when put in use. The damage was very similar to that caused to the Juliano, another flotilla ship, in Greece. The consequent damage would have happened gradually as the ship was sailing and would have culminated in a breach of the hull.

The Irish Ship to Gaza campaign believes that Israel has questions to answer and must be viewed as the chief suspect in this professional and very calculating act of sabotage.

Commenting on the attack from Göcek in Turkey, Dr Fintan Lane, national coordinator of Irish Ship to Gaza, who own the vessel, said: "This is an appalling attack and should be condemned by all right-thinking people. It is an act of violence against Irish citizens and could have caused death and injury. If we had not spotted the damage as a result of a short trip in the bay, we would have gone to sea with a dangerously damaged propeller shaft and the boat would have sunk if the hull had been breached. Imagine the scene if this had happened at nighttime."

He continued: "One of the most shocking aspects is the delayed nature of the sabotage. It wasn't designed to stop the ship from leaving its berth; instead, it was intended that the fatal damage to the ship would occur while she was at sea and this could have resulted in the deaths of several of those on board. This was a potentially murderous act."

Dr Lane, who was on board Challenger 1 in last year's flotilla, said: "The Freedom Flotilla is a non-violent act of practical and humanitarian solidarity with the people of Gaza, yet Israel continues to use threats and violence to delay its sailing. They attacked us in international waters last year; now they are attacking us in Turkish and Greek ports. There is no line that Israel won't cross."

"We will not be intimidated by attacks like this - it simply highlights the aggression that the Palestinian people of Gaza have to put up with on a daily basis. It strengthens our determination to continue until this illegal and immoral blockade is lifted."

Calling on the government and northern executive to demand safe passage for Freedom Flotilla 2, Dr Lane said: "The Irish government needs to publicly condemn this dangerous act of sabotage but it also should insist on the flotilla being allowed to make it to Gaza unhindered. Israel has no right to interdict the flotilla and even less right to carry out attacks against vessels in Greek and Turkish ports."

"It is important that everybody make their voices heard in solidarity with the people of Gaza and in support of the flotilla. The Israeli embassy should become a focal point for street demonstrations. These saboteurs came very close to killing Irish citizens."

Also speaking from Göcek, the skipper of the MV Saoirse, Shane Dillon, said: "The damage sighted and inspected on the starboard propeller shaft on the MV Saoirse had the potential to cause loss of life to a large number of those aboard. The nature of the attack and malicious damage was such that under normal circumstances the vessel would most likely have sunk at sea. If the ship was operating at high engine revs, the damage done by the saboteurs would have caused the shaft to shear and the most likely outcome would be the rupturing of the hull and the vessel foundering. If, as was intended, the vessel had proceeded to Gaza at reduced revs, the stern tube would have been forced off line and a large and rapid ingress of water would have resulted, sinking the vessel."

Mr Dillon continued: "The shaft was filmed and photographed when the vessel was lifted from the water on Wednesday afternoon in a shipyard in the Turkish coastal village of Göcek. A local marine engineer inspected the shaft and his opinion was that the interference was the work of professional saboteurs intent on disabling the Saoirse. However, the most shocking aspect of the attack was that its intention was to cause failure of the shaft when the vessel was offshore and this shows a total disregard for human life."

He ended: "It is also worth noting that the damage inflicted on the Saoirse was identical to that that caused to the Greek/Swedish ship, the Juliano, which was sabotaged in the Greek port of Piraeus a few days ago."

Pat Fitzgerald, a Sinn Fein member of Waterford County Council and chief engineer on the Saoirse, commented: "We were very lucky to discover this act of sabotage when we did. We felt vibrations from the shaft as we were returning to the berth on Monday evening following a short trip in the bay for refuelling purposes. Close inspection by divers on Tuesday and then on land on Wednesday revealed a large man-made gouge on one side of the propeller shaft. The integrity of the shaft had been compromised and a very serious bend had developed. This could have caused fatalities had we set to sea and almost certainly would have sunk the boat when the engine revs were increased. It was an act of sheer lunacy and endangered the lives of all on board."

The sabotage has been reported to the harbour master in Göcek and Irish Ship to Gaza are asking for a full investigation by the Turkish police.

The repairs have yet to be fully costed but could be more than E15,000 and they will take some time, meaning that the Saoirse cannot participate in Freedom Flotilla 2.

However, six of the 20 crew and passengers aboard the Saoirse will transfer to another ship in the flotilla. The six Irish who will join the Italian/Dutch ship are Fintan Lane, national coordinator of Irish Ship to Gaza and a member of the Free Gaza Movement;Trevor Hogan, former Ireland and Leinster rugby player; Paul Murphy, Socialist Party MEP for Dublin; Zoe Lawlor of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign;Hussein Hamed, a Libyan-born Irish citizen; and Gerry MacLochlainn, a Sinn Fein member of Derry City Council.

The MV Saoirse will be repaired and used in future flotillas to Gaza if they are needed.

Contacts
Ireland: Claudia Saba at 086 3938821, or Laurence Davis at 086 3605053
Turkey: Phone Fintan Lane (Göcek) at 087 1258325, or 537557811 (Turkish number)


US Senate passes resolution to stop aid to Palestinians if UN statehood vote goes ahead


Just in case anyone was under the misguided impression that the US is an honest broker in the Middle East, this news from the US Senate should clear up the confusion:
The United States Senate has passed a resolution threatening to suspend financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority if its leaders "persist in efforts to circumvent direct negotiations by turning to the United Nations or other international bodies,” and called on U.S. President Barack Obama to veto a UN vote on unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

“Palestinian efforts to gain recognition of a state outside direct negotiations demonstrates absence of a good faith commitment to peace negotiations, and will have implications for continued United States aid,” the resolution declares. more
So Palestinians must recognise an Israeli state but the Palestinians themselves are not even allowed to have even a theoretical one, which is all that a UN resolution in practice will mean, because, of course, Israel still occupies Palestine.

189 dunums of Palestinian land south of Nablus seized as 'state property' by Israel


NABLUS, (PIC)-- Israeli authorities have notified the residents of the Palestinian Qaryut village south of Nablus that they would seize 189 dunums of local farmland, said West Bank Jewish settlement official Ghassan Daghlas.

The official added that the authorities have restricted entry of the land and have declared it state property. more

Jordanians buy $800,000 boat for Gaza flotilla - carrying medical aid and construction material


Some really good news. Jordanian activists now have a boat ready to join the flotilla.
AMMAN, Jun 29, 2011 (AFP) - Arab activists have purchased a boat to join a Gaza-bound aid flotilla aimed at breaking Israel's five-year blockade on the Palestinian territory, a leading Jordanian unionist said on Wednesday.

"Arab contributors have bought in Greece a 560,000-euro ($805,000) boat that can take up to 200 passengers to join the aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip," Wael Saqqa, former head of the Jordan engineers' union, told AFP.

"The boat has been registered under the name of Nur company, established for the purpose of purchasing the boat," said Saqqa, adding 35 Jordanian activists would join the flotilla.

The vessel was expected to set sail for Gaza on Thursday, along with other ships.

"But it might be delayed because there is a general strike in Greek ports," Saqqa said, adding the boat would carry medical aid and construction material. more

Irish ship to Gaza not able to join flotilla due to extensive sabotage by Israeli agents


From Irish Ship to gaza

Terrible news has reached us in the early hours of Thursday – the Irish Ship To Gaza, MV Saoirse, has been SABOTAGED, presumably by agents of Israel. The damage is extensive, and indeed, if it had gone undetected apparently may have been lıfe-threatenıng if the ship had been at sea.

This is an unacceptable act of aggression against an Irish vessel (which is sovereign Irish territory), against the Freedom Flotilla, and most importantly against the people of Palestine which this flotilla was intending to reach in an act of humanitarian solidarity.

Full details of the extent of the sabotage, including photos and video of the damage will be made available to the press later today.

The Irish Ship To Gaza have called an EMERGENCY DEMONSTRATION for tomorrow in response to this outrageous act. We are calling on people to assemble at 6pm at the Spire in O’Connell Street. From there we will march to the Israeli Embassy and stage an overnight sit-in outside (so bring sleeping bags etc). We intend to shut down the Israeli Embassy!

We need this demo to be as loud as possible, so if you have drums, bodrans, whistles, whatever, please bring them along.

This act of sabotage against a peaceful humanitarian civil society mission (which has been paid for by 1000s of ordinary Irish people) must be protested in the strongest terms possible.

Irish Ship to Gaza

And more at the Irish Times, confirming the ship will no be sailing die to the extensive sabotage.

Israel withdraws phone calls, conjugal visits, education and other rights from Palestinian prisoners


From Arab News
RAMALLAH: The Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Wednesday announced that Israel will start revoking the Palestinian prisoners’ privileges.

The Israeli Channel 10 television quoted Aharonovitch as saying that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) will bar the prisoners from enrolling in university studies. Israel holds some 6,700 Palestinian prisoners in 23 jails and detention camps.

He added that the IPS will block the cellular reception in jails to prevent Hamas prisoners from communicating with the movement’s prisoners in other Israeli jails and with the Hamas leaders in Gaza Strip.

The minister added that the prisoners will not have the right to conjugal visits or vacations.

According to the minister, the measures are part of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to take away prisoners’ privileges in order to pressure Hamas into releasing kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still held in Hamas captivity since June 2006.

Netanyahu’s decision came in response to Hamas’ refusal to let the International Committee of the Red Cross International Red Cross (ICRC) visit Shalit.

Hamas said the ICRC should also consider the suffering of 7,000 prisoners in Israeli jails. more

Haaretz columnist pleads with his government to allow flotilla to proceed to Gaza


Ex IDF medic Bradley Burston, writing in Haaretz, pleads with Netanyahu and Barak to let the flotilla reach Gaza. Unfortunately his pleas are likely to fall on deaf ears. The Israelis are being led by fools.
Once again, as it did a year ago, in making a decision to fight the flotilla, Israel is defending not itself, but the siege. This, at the expense of its own international standing, at the expense of its very freedom to defend itself.

There is nearly nothing which more effectively delegitimizes Israel - and makes Israel look more like an uncaring blockhead state - than does the siege of Gaza. The siege benefits Hamas in a thousand ways and Israel in none. But there is one thing that does the work of delegitimization even better: attacking civilians in order to protect the siege.

Enter the 21st century. Before it's too late. You're not young commandos anymore. Grow up. Do your nation a favor - act your age. The flotilla is not a terrorist fleet. It is not an arms shipment. The flotilla is, however, a statement about Israel, a judgment of its policies, and, in the end, the verdict will come directly from you.

The cargo of the flotilla consists of this message: Israel is callous, brutal, insensitive to civilians, heedless of human rights, wholly in the wrong. Last year, from start to finish, all the proof of this that the flotilla organizers and participants needed, was supplied by you.

It's not too late this time. Last time, you shrugged off the flotilla as unimportant, then, back flipping from blunder to blunder, leapt blindly into a decision of rash incompetence that proved lethal...

...Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Barak, the flotilla is very much a test of Israel. You invest a great deal of thought over Israel's capabilities of deterrence. You expend enormous effort in seeking ways to combat delegitimization. This time, show strength. Let Israel pass the test. Let the flotilla sail to Gaza. more

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

US Boat to Gaza invites Greek and international media to inspect Audacity of Hope



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - June 29, 2011

Audacity Invites Media to Inspect  
Boat and Passengers
"We're Sulfur-Free and Ready to Sail"


Passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, invite Greek and international media to inspect The Audacity of Hope at 3 pm Athens time on Thursday, June 30, in the town of Perama (next to Piraeus), 42 Democratis.
 
The entire boat will be open for view, photography, and video. The captain, crew, and passengers on the boat will be available for interviews and inspection. The cargo of the ship - 3,000 letters from Americans to the people of Gaza - will also be available for view, photographs, and video. Everything that will be on the boat when it sets sail, including food and passengers' personal medications for use during their voyage, will be available for inspection.
 
The Audacity of Hope was inspected by Greek officials on Monday, June 27 after a complaint was lodged by an Israeli group that the vessel was not seaworthy. We have not yet received notification of their findings nor a copy of their report, but we are certain that our boat is up to code. Meanwhile, Israeli officials have made outrageous allegations that passengers on the flotilla will be bringing "sacks of sulfur" to pour on Israeli soldiers. Even Members of Israel's own security cabinet have dismissed these charges as "media spin" and "public relations hysteria."* We invite the media onto our boat to conduct a thorough inspection. We are confident that such an inspection will show that our boat is "sulfur-free" and ready to sail.
 
"On behalf of the 36 passengers and 4 crew on The Audacity of Hope, I invite the media to ask us anything, inspect anything, taste our food, look inside our bags" said Gale Courey Toensing, a passenger on the American boat. "Our voyage is totally transparent and we have nothing to hide. All we want to do is sail to Gaza with our cargo of letters from Americans to the people of Gaza."
 
* "Israel ministers slam flotilla threat as 'spin'", Agence France Presse 6/29/11 
 
----------
 
For regular updates follow the US Boat to Gaza on Twitter: http://twitter.com/usboattogaza and visit the US Boat to Gaza website.

Sabotage suspected on second flotilla vessel - Irish boat's propellor damaged

(pic: Demo in Dublin to support of Irish Ship to Gaza)


ATHENS — Pro-Palestinian activists hoping to draw international attention to Gaza's plight faced further setbacks Wednesday, as reports a second boat had been "sabotaged" pushed the departure back to the weekend at the earliest.

Frustrated volunteers for the Gaza-bound flotilla milled helplessly around in Athens as organisers also admitted they were making little headway with the Greek government over getting the necessary permission to set sail.

"The Irish boat has a problem with its propeller, we don't know yet how serious it is, but we believe it may have been sabotaged," said flotilla coordinator Claude Leostic.

The problem with the "Saoirse" (Gaelic for freedom) -- one of 10 vessels trying to leaving the Greek port of Piraeus -- followed Monday's news that the propeller on the "Juliano" boat, belonging to Swedish activists, had been cut. more

Read a report on the Dublin protest here

Gaza's children aim for new Kite flying world record at UNRWA summer games


GAZA (Ma'an) -- More than three thousand students from the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees are expected to break the first of four Guinness world records Thursday as part of a summer games program organized by UNRWA.

The games, a six week recreational program now in its fifth year, are organized by the UN agency at the behest of the Gazan population and over a quarter of a million children participate, a statement by UNRWA said.

The world records being attempted include the largest amount of people flying large parachutes from the ground, which was set last year at 1,547. The event will be held at the Khan Younis stadium.

“We intend to double the previous record”, said UNRWA spokesman, Chris Gunness.

“If kids in Gaza are given half the chance, free from the constraints of this counter-productive blockade, they would show their full potential and be number one in the world. These records will put the spotlight on the world’s only community of hundreds of thousands of fenced in and locked up children.

"The message is simple: Give Gaza kids their freedom to be children. We need to end this blockade, which has become a blockade against childhood itself.” more

Israeli cabinet ministers break ranks, accusing army and Netanyahu of 'spin' over flotilla threat


Maan highlights a report in the hebrew-language daily Maariv that some cabinet ministers are accusing the army and Netanyahu of 'spin' over the threat posed by the flotilla.

From Maan
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Several Israeli ministers have accused the army of "spin" over its claims that activists on board a Gaza-bound flotilla plan to harm Israeli soldiers, Maariv newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The paper quoted several unnamed members of Israel's security cabinet as saying the claims were "media spin" and "public relations hysteria."

On Monday, Israeli military spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovitz said there were "radical elements" among the activists participating in the sea convoy, including some carrying "dangerous incendiary chemicals."

But security cabinet ministers told Maariv they were given no such information when they were briefed on the flotilla this week, and even accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office of being behind the disinformation.

"Netanyahu decided to change the version about the nature of the flotilla for two reasons that are connected to the international community," one of the ministers, who were not named, told the newspaper. more

Washington Post takes apart Israel's dishonest and desperate efforts to stop Freedom Flotilla II


From the Washington Post
Participants in the flotilla — expected to be made up of 10 ships with pro-Palestinian activists from various nations, including a group from the United States with the prominent American author Alice Walker — have insisted that they will react nonviolently to any Israeli attempt to intercept them.

Israel has said that it will not allow the ships to reach Gaza and that it will use force if necessary. Israeli officials say the naval blockade of Gaza is meant to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the territory, which is controlled by the militant Islamic group Hamas.

Dror Feiler, an Israeli-born activist from Sweden and an organizer of the flotilla, dismissed the reports of violent intent in an interview Tuesday on Israeli army radio.

“We have no intention of confronting anyone,” he said. “All our passengers sign a declaration of nonviolence. We are training for nonviolence, to avoid a repetition of what happened last time.

“The state of Israel, with all its army, security services and everything it has, is going against a bunch of 20 nongovernmental organizations,” Feiler added. “Really, it’s ridiculous.”

In Athens, Scandinavian organizers said Tuesday that one of their ships had been sabotaged by divers who cut its propeller shaft. The ship, the Juliano, was docking in the port of Piraeus and is expected to carry Swedish, Norwegian and Greek activists.

The organizers said that the damage can be repaired and that the ship, named for Juliano Mer-Khamis, an Israeli Arab actor and activist who was shot to death in the West Bank, was expected to sail for Gaza toward the end of the week.

An Israeli army spokeswoman declined to comment on the incident.

Efforts to discredit the flotilla have also been made through social media. But a YouTube video promoted by Israeli government offices and purporting to show a gay rights activist whose offer of help was spurned by flotilla planners has turned out to be a hoax.

In the video, a man identifying himself as Marc claims that his offer on behalf of a network of gay rights activists to bring supplies to the flotilla was rejected. He warns that the flotilla organizers were embracing Hamas, one of whose leaders had denounced gays as “a minority of perverts.”

“Be careful who you get in bed with,” Marc says. “You might wake up next to Hamas.”

The video was posted on the private Twitter account of an intern working in the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and later cited in Twitter feeds from the Israeli government press office and the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

After the Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian Web site, identified the man in the video as Omer Gershon, an Israeli actor from Tel Aviv, the press office apologized on Twitter for promoting a hoax and the Foreign Ministry removed a link to the video on its Twitter feed. A spokesman for Netanyahu said the intern had acted without authorization. more

Israeli parliament passes draft of law to force Palestinians to pay cost of demolition of their own homes


From IMEMC
A Committee of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed a first draft of a law that will require that Palestinians whose homes are destroyed by Israeli forces pay the Israeli government for the demolition costs.

The law will now be passed to the full Knesset for a final reading, where it is expected to pass due to the current makeup of the Knesset.

Since 1967, Israeli forces have demolished 24,813 Palestinian homes. 90% of these homes were destroyed for 'administrative' reasons – because they either lacked a permit or were in an area designated for expansion by the Israeli military. No permits have been issued by Israeli authorities for Palestinian construction in the Occupied Territories since 1967. The remaining 10% of the demolitions have been 'punitive' demolitions of the homes of Palestinians accused of attacking Israel, or of their families' homes.

In the first five months of 2011, Israeli forces demolished more Palestinian homes than in the entire year of 2010, rendering homeless 706 Palestinians, including 341 minors. This is according to the most recent numbers released by the Israeli Civil Administration. more

Video: footage of the sabotaged propeller axel of the Juliano which is now undergoing repairs


A passenger boat [the Swedish/Norwegian/Greek boat called the Juliano - iGaza] aiming to participate in the Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human mission, was sabotaged on Monday, June 27. In this video, Captain Thodoris Boukas explains about the discovery of the sabotage, and also footage from the examination by diver Yorgos Vardakas can be seen.

Leader of main Palestinian civic organisation in Israel detained in UK after overnight raid


The UK government appears to confuse anything with 'Islamic' in the name to be connected to terrorism. He must be freed now.

From the Guardian
Sheikh Raed Salah, a leading Palestinian activist, has been detained in London amid reports that he is banned from the UK

Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was detained on Tuesday night by police.

The home secretary, Theresa May, said officials from the UK Border Agency were taking steps to remove Salah from the country. She said an investigation had been launched into how he managed to get into the UK.

Sarah Colborne, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), insisted that Salah was the leader of a legitimate political organisation. He rejected all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, she said. more

His solicitor, Farooq Bajwa, said Salah had "no knowledge" of a travel ban and had made "no attempt" to conceal his identity when he entered Britain.

"Sheikh Raed Salah is the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, the largest movement for Palestinians in Israel," Colborne said.

"This is a legitimate organisation which Israel has never moved to ban.
From the Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Sarah Colborne, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said "I am appalled that Sheikh Raed Salah was detained late last night by the police.

"Sheikh Raed Salah is the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, the largest movement for Palestinians in Israel. This is a legitimate organisation which Israel has never moved to ban. Raed Saleh regularly speaks at venues across Israel where he has considerable support amongst the Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population.

"Sheikh Raed has been elected as mayor of his hometown Um al-Fahm three times. He has never been convicted of anti-Semitism in Israel.

"Before coming to Britain, he faced horrific allegations of anti-Semitism, which he completely refuted. He has clarified his position of being opposed to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and racism against his own people, the Palestinians. He has asked his legal team to take legal action against those spreading these false allegations.

"The attempt to remove Sheikh Raed Salah from this country whilst he is taking legal action against those who have been defaming him is an obstruction of the course of justice.

"We have been organising a meeting on peace and justice in Jerusalem for weeks – with publicity widely available – to which Sheikh Raed Salah was one of the speakers. PSC also invited MPs to speak at the same meeting. At no stage did anyone contact us from the government or the police. Following rumours in the papers, Sheikh Raed Salah’s legal team tried to verify if it was true that a travel ban had indeed been issued, and had no confirmation nor denial from any official source. I am appalled that decisions on whether or not significant political figures can be detained in this country appear to be made on the basis of defamatory rumours, rather than facts. This shocking move by the British government will deeply damage British relations in the Middle East."

Shaikh Salah has recently released a statement refuting the alleagations made against him

The meeting in Parliament at which Shaikh Salah was due to speak at, will still take place as scheduled tonight (Wednesday).


For further details: Sarah Colborne (PSC), 020 7700 6192

Video: Gaza activists reject IDF's ludicrous claims of preparation for 'chemical attack'


Russia Today - Israel says an international aid flotilla is carrying chemical weapons which could be used on soldiers attempting to stop it reaching Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force has been ordered to prevent the 10 ships from making it to the Palestinian territories. For more on this I'm joined by Itamar Shapira from Jerusalem, who was on a similar aid flotilla last year.


Press release below from US Boat to Gaza:

Athens: Passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza rejected as ludicrous and provocative an unsubstantiated accusation by the Israeli Army that passengers in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla plan to kill IDF soldiers with chemical weapons. The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday an Israeli Defense Forces allegation that some passengers on the flotilla had prepared sacks of sulfur which they planned to pour on Israeli soldiers.

"Passengers on the U.S. boat have long histories of responding to injustice nonviolently and peacefully. Every participant in the flotilla has signed a pledge of nonviolence," said Melissa Lane, a passenger on the U.S. boat. "We have been engaged in nonviolence training for the last several days. We have no weapons, and we have repeatedly offered to have our boats inspected by neutral authorities. We are absolutely not seeking any confrontation with the Israeli military. We just want to sail to Gaza."

"These spurious claims are merely an attempt to establish a justification to attack us," said Brad Taylor, another passenger on the U.S. boat. "Instead of fabricating horror stories about the hundreds of unarmed civilians in the flotilla, Israel should come clean about what it is they have in store for us. It is safe to conclude that the only chemical weapons, including tear gas and smoke bombs, that will ever be brought on board our ships to Gaza are those that the Israeli military apparently intends to fire at us."

"This is truly a shameful and desperate tactic on the part of the Israeli government. They know full well that the passengers have no intention of being anything but peaceful," said passenger Paki Wieland.

For regular updates follow the US Boat to Gaza on Twitter: http://twitter.com/usboattogaza and visit the U.S. Boat to Gaza website.

French and Irish ships set sail for rendevous point in international waters near Crete


(pic: Irish ship to Gaza - MV Saoirse [Freedom])

If all goes to plan the flotilla is expected to arrive on the Gaza coast on Sunday.

From Haaretz
Two ships participating in the flotilla to Gaza have already set sail toward the flotilla's scheduled meeting place in international waters.

The French ship "Dignity" and the Irish ship "Freedom" do not intend on anchoring before reaching the meeting point at sea, but it is still unclear how long they will be waiting for the rest of the ships, some of which were said to be sabotaged.
Gaza flotilla ship - Ship Gaza Sweden - June 28 2011

On Monday, the propeller of the Greek-Swedish ship "Juliano" was found broken, and Gaza flotilla organizers said they believed it was deliberate sabotage by Israel. It is still unclear how long it will take to fix the problem to allow the ship to set sail.

Moreover, two Port Authority inspectors appeared at the Greek port of Piraeus on Monday and asked to conduct a surprise inspection of the Canadian ship "Tahrir", after it had already underwent a thorough inspection by the International Naval Surveys Bureau and was said to be ready to sail.

It was found Tuesday that the additional inspection came following a complaint by a private citizen to the Port Authority. The complaint said the Canadian ship was "sea unworthy." A similar complaint was filed against the American ship last week.

According to Greek seamen and lawmakers, it is extremely rare for private citizens to file complaints against private ships. more

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

First African convoy to Gaza to reach Gaza by end of July

From Press TV
The first overland African convoy has set out for the impoverished Gaza Strip, carrying humanitarian relief aid to the besieged coastal sliver.

The convoy, comprising 21 activists and a dozen vehicles, carries much needed aid that include medical supplies, basic essentials, milk powder, generators and materials to build 10 houses, a Press TV correspondent reports.

Starting the road trip from the South African city of Durban, the aid convoy is expected to reach Gaza by the end of July.

“Today we stand here in total, unconditional, universal support of this initiative. God bless you as you travel to the land and reach the dear people of Palestine,” said Michael Abrahams of Durban mayor's office.

All of the vehicles will be donated to the Gaza municipality.

However, Egyptian authorities have stated that they will not allow the convoy onto Egyptian thoroughfares.

The organizers of the convoy said the aim was not only to take aid to Gaza, but also to raise awareness across Africa about the plight of those living in the blockaded enclave. more

Freedom Flotilla 2 to set sail from Crete on Thursday or Friday to break Gaza blockade


From Ahram Online
Pro-Palestinian activists from 22 countries plan to set sail in an international flotilla for Gaza from the coast of Crete on Thursday or Friday, organisers said Monday.

¨Thursday or Friday, nine or 10 boats should meet up in the Libyan Gulf,¨ Vaguelis Pissias, one of the Greek organisers of the flotilla, said at a press conference with representatives from the international organisations involved.

¨We really hope that despite the pressure from Israel and other countries, the Greek authorities are not going to stop us leaving," he added.

Organisers of the ¨Freedom flotilla¨ complained that the Greek authorities were creating ¨administrative obstacles¨ amid pressure from Israel to stop the campaigners from attempting to defy the five-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The departure has also been complicated by local politics, with transport strikes planned for this week as frustrated Greeks protest against harsh austerity reforms being voted on by the government of the debt-ridden country.

Several of the boats taking part -- including two cargo ships carrying three thousand tonnes of aid such as medicines and cement -- will set off from Greek ports, while others plan to join them out at sea, organisers said. more

Outrage as US government moves to criminalize Palestine solidarity

From Electronic Intifada

US government moves to criminalize Palestine solidarity

In an op-ed published by Al Jazeera English today, I write about the US government’s attempts to criminalize the Palestine solidarity activists — including the State Department’s threats to prosecute activists involved with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. I also appeared on Al Jazeera English’s The Stream today to discuss FBI raids and subpoenas targeting activists.

As I write in the op-ed, “I am a Palestine solidarity activist in the US, and one of 23 US citizens who have been issued with a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury as part of what the government has said is an investigation into violations of the laws banning material support to foreign ‘terrorist organisations.’”

This investigation takes place in the context of a new Supreme Court decision that greatly expanded what constitutes material support and has been widely criticized. It also takes place in a situation of even more relaxed restrictions on the FBI’s investigative powers — the FBI is planning to issue a revised edition of its operations manual that will give agents “significant new powers” to go through people’s trash and infiltrate groups even if they are not suspected of any wrongdoing.

more

Video: Chicano-Jewish American Gabriel Schivone on why he's sailing with the Gaza flotilla



Passenger Gabriel Schivone talks about why he is going aboard the US Boat to Gaza with the Stay Human Flotilla at the end of the month.

Bio: Gabriel Matthew Schivone is a Chicano-Jewish American and undergraduate student who was born in Tucson, Arizona. He is a volunteer with the humanitarian/migrant-rights organization, No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, which works to end death and suffering on the US/Mexico border and throughout Arizona. Gabe is also coordinator of AZ Jewish Voice for Peace. He draws strength and resolve to join Flotilla II from, among other areas, the marvelous words of Henry Thoreau: "Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority—it is not even a minority then—but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight."

Four Hamas MPs arrested on West Bank near Hebron and 20 Ramallah PFLP activists

From AFP
NABLUS, Palestinian Territories — Israeli troops on Tuesday arrested four Hamas MPs in the northern West Bank, Palestinian security sources and officials from the Islamist group said.

Three of them were arrested in the early hours in the northern city of Nablus, while a fourth was picked up in Salfit, a town some 15 kilometres (nine miles) further south, they said.

In Nablus, troops arrested three MPs -- Nawaf Amer, who is also a journalist for the Al-Quds television channel, Fuad Khofash, director of the Ahrar centre for prisoners and human rights, and Firas Jarrar, a former prisoner.

And in Salfit, they picked up local MP Nasser Abdel Jawwad.

The army had no immediate comment on the arrests, which bring to 17 the number of Hamas parliamentarians detained by Israeli troops over the past eight months. more

...and 20 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine members also arrested:


From Maan
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's main security agency has reportedly arrested more than 20 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operatives from Ramallah and occupied East Jerusalem in the past few weeks.

According to public radio in Israel on Monday, the Shin Bet said suspects were planning to kidnap soldiers and perpetrate attacks against Israel, including a number of shooting attacks and a bomb attack in Jerusalem.
Maan

Israel caught out spreading fake video to smear Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 activists

(pic: What is Netanyahu aide Guy Seemann's role in the anti-flotilla pinkwashing hoax, asks Max Blumenthal)

It's now official: the Israeli government are a bunch of liars. Read on

From Haaretz
Did the Prime Minister’s office distribute a fake anti-flotilla video? This is exactly what some American bloggers have been claiming, after probing a video that was uploaded to YouTube on Sunday.

The video, nearly three minutes long, featured a young man who called himself Marc and claimed to be a gay and human rights activist. The man recounted a story in which he asked the organizers of the upcoming Gaza flotilla to join their mission, and claimed that his request was allegedly denied on the grounds that participation of the gay and lesbian group with which he was affiliated would not serve the flotilla’s “interests.”

“Marc” explained in the video that he understood why his request was denied only after he researched the people organizing the aid flotilla and found that they had strong ties to Hamas, “whose foreign minister has called homosexuals a minority of perverts, mentally and morally sick,” he said in the video.

Following the YouTube video’s release, U.S. blogger Max Blumenthal found that the recording, which was distributed by Israeli government employee Neil Lazarus on his Facebook page, was a hoax, and that the man who appears in it was actually an Israeli entrepreneur and public relations expert named Omer Gershon.

The video was also tweeted later by Guy Seeman, who was apparently working as an intern in the prime minister’s office.

The premier’s office refused to comment about Seeman’s employment.

You can watch the fake video here and Max's original story can be found at the following link:
Anti-Flotilla video fraud linked to PM Netanyahu’s office, official Israeli hasbara agents (Updated)

Israel makes absurd claim that nonviolent activists plan to attack commandos with chemicals


Israel's despicable campaign of threats and intimidation continues apace. Now they are claiming nonviolent activists are planning to attack IDF soldiers with chemicals. This is a particularly clumsy way of trying to build a narrative around the spurious notion of poor little Israeli commandos given no choice but to kill in order to defend themselves.

It is a lie, and organisers are asking the Israeli military to identify the persons supposedly intent on violence so that they can be excluded from the flotilla. No response has been forthcoming from the misnamed Israeli Defence Forces.

Let's remind ourselves that it was the IDF that did all the killing a year ago, and the world beyond Tel Aviv and the White House knows it.

From Haaretz
The organizer of the Gaza-bound flotilla is dismissed Tuesday Israeli allegations that extremists aboard the ships plan to harm Israeli soldiers who would be dispatched to stop them.

Dror Feiler says the hundreds of people planning to sail soon in a bid to break Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian territory have signed a declaration of nonviolence.

Feiler told Army Radio on Tuesday that if Israel has information about specific suspects, it should pass it along to flotilla's organizers.

Israeli military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich on Monday cited intelligence reports saying extremists in the flotilla have "dangerous incendiary chemicals" for use against Israeli forces.

Senior Israeli officials said at a press briefing on Monday that even though the Turkish organization IHH has withdrawn from the upcoming flotilla to Gaza, information recently obtained by Israel indicates that some passengers are planning on carrying out violent acts. more

Hamas refused German mediator's prisoner-swap deal because of unacceptable Israeli conditions


DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Deputy political bureau chairman of Hamas Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk has said that his movement rejected the “unjust offer” tabled by the German "mediator" on the prisoners’ exchange deal because he bowed to Israeli occupation conditions.

He told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper published on Monday that Gerhard Conrad adopted the Israeli occupation government’s conditions, which he described as “unjust and unfair”.

He added that the Israeli occupation's stringent conditions are to be expected but for the German middleman to adopt such a position is “unacceptable”.

Abu Marzouk stressed that there would be no return to the German mediator because he did not assume his role properly and failed.

The Hamas leader said that the prisoner exchange deal was now in the hands of Egypt, emphasising that his movement was interested in concluding the deal but in accordance with national, honorable conditions.

Meanwhile, an unidentified Egyptian source told the same paper that Israel should display “a positive stance”. He held the Israeli government responsible for not concluding the exchange deal, adding that Tel Aviv should be more flexible and not table extremist positions, which it knows in advance would not be accepted by Hamas.

Thanks to the Palestinian Information Center

Monday, 27 June 2011

Scandinavian/Greek flotilla boat Juliano has propellor axel cut in act of sabotage, repairs underway


From the Christian Science Monitor
A ship jointly owned by Swedish, Greek, and Norwegian activists hoping to join a flotilla of activist vessels challenging Israel's economic blockade of Gaza, had its propeller cut while in Athen's harbor today. A spokesman contacted by the Monitor said that the damage was a deliberate act of sabotage.

Israel and its allies have been working hard to head off the planned flotilla, which is hoping to enter the waters off Gaza in the next week. Col. (ret) Ann Wright, who's organizing a US vessel named the Audacity of Hope for the flotilla, says her ship has been detained in Athens on spurious charges that it's not seaworthy. She says that charge was made by an Israeli legal group.

Now the Juliano is held up. Mikael Löfgren, a spokesman for Ship to Gaza Sweden, says the damage was discovered at 6:30 in the evening Athens time today, and that divers probably cut the propeller in the past 24 hours.

"The reports I'm receiving is that it's certain that it was sabotage," says Mr. Löfgren, reached by phone in Sweden. "The propeller and [propeller shaft] has been cut and we have divers that have filmed the damages. Experts have said there’s no doubt" that the damage was deliberate.

He says that repairing the damage will take a few days. As to who is responsible, he declined to speculate. "We simply don't know who did it, but it's obviously a hostile act," says Löfgren. more

Video report: Democracy Now exclusive from Greece - 'We are eager to get to Gaza'



Up to 50 Americans are set to sail from a Greek port on a U.S.-flagged ship that is part of an international flotilla carrying humanitarian aid and letters of support for Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinian residents.

Its fate is now in limbo under the weight of U.S.-Israeli pressure and Greece’s economic turmoil. Israel insists it will enforce its blockade on Gaza, which it says is aimed at stopping weapons from reaching the Hamas government. “The Israelis have a right to interdict arms traffic.

We are bearing letters,” says Ray McGovern, former Senior CIA analyst and passenger on the U.S. aid ship. “How can these letters be considered a threat to security of Israel?” Democracy Now! producer Aaron Maté is in Athens to cover the journey of The Audacity of Hope, named after President Obama’s best-selling book. He and fellow producer, Hany Massoud, are the only journalists with the U.S. delegation. They file this exclusive report.

Video: Israel's intensive exploitation of resources aimed at de facto annexation of the Jordan valley


The Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area contains the largest land reserves in the West Bank. The area covers 1.6 million dunams, which constitute 28.8 percent of the West Bank. Sixty-five thousand Palestinians, live in 29 communities, and an estimated additional 15,000 Palestinians reside in dozens of small Beduin communities. Some 9,400 settlers live in the 37 settlements (including seven outposts) in the area.

Israel has instituted in this area a regime that intensively exploits its resources, to an extent greater than elsewhere in the West Bank, and which demonstrates its intention: de facto annexation of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area to the State of Israel.

From B'Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

Dublin Demos: End the siege, let the flotilla through - Riverdance, don't dance for Israeli apartheid


The Irish Ship to Gaza Campaign have organised a demonstration in support of Freedom Flotilla 2 - Stay Human.

- Assemble: Tuesday 28 June 6.00pm at Central Bank Plaza, Dame St, Dublin 2

- March: Israeli Embassy, 122 Pembroke Rd

- Via: The Gaiety Theatre (South King's St) where Riverdance will be opening. Riverdance is scheduled to perform a series of shows in Israel in September, and the IPSC are organising a protest outside the opening night in the Gaiety at 6.30pm. The march will link up with this protest and go out to the Israeli Embassy.

The demonstration is supported by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Irish Anti-War Movement.

Support the Irish Ship to Gaza and the second Freedom Flotilla!

The Freedom Flotilla II, including the Irish Ship to Gaza and
the Mavi Marmara (which attacked in open waters last year by the Israelis with the loss of nine lives), sets sail for Palestine on or about the 28 June, with desperately needed supplies and equipment.

We are calling this demonstration to demand the Flotilla be given
unhindered access to the beleaguered people of Gaza and to focus the public and media attention on the mission, so as to help deter any repetition of last year's attack.

Gaza, we are coming - despite pressure and threats of violence, flotilla will sail

(pic: Activists wave Palestinian flags onboard a ship named "Dignité - Al Karama" as it sails off the French island of Corsica on June 25 to join the new pro-Palestinian aid flotilla. Israel's security cabinet was to convene on Monday for a second day of discussions on how to stave off an international flotilla intending to breach the naval blockade of Gaza, local media said. [AFP/Murielle Kasprzak])

27 June 2011 | FREEDOM FLOTILLA II

Contact: Huwaida Arraf, Athens +30-694-781-5798

Greta Berlin, Athens +33 607 374 512

GAZA, WE ARE COMING - Despite pressure and threats of violence, flotilla will sail

On Saturday, 25 June, the French boat, Dignity / Karama, left the port of l’ile Rousse in Corsica, France, to meet up with at least nine other vessels sailing to Gaza to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade. Israel’s best efforts to stop our boats at port, including pressure on governments, threats against insurance and communications companies, intimidation of human rights defenders, frivolous lawsuits and other underhanded tactics, have thusfar failed. The Freedom Flotilla has set sail.

In the coming days the rest of the vessels in the flotilla, two cargo ships and seven other passenger boats, will leave from various ports to a meeting point in international waters from which the boats will sail all together towards Gaza. We will carry nearly three thousand tons of aid and hundreds of civilians from dozens of countries, including members of parliament, politicians, writers, artists, journalists and sports figures, as well as representatives of indigenous peoples and various faith groups.

Unfortunately some of our vessels are facing delays admittedly initiated by bogus complaints from the Israel Law Center, attempted sabotage of some boats, as well as administrative obstacles created by the Greek government in response to Israeli pressure. We call upon the Greek government not to become complicit in Israel’s illegal actions by succumbing to this pressure, and to join France in standing unopposed to the flotilla.

There is no question that Israel’s near hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip is illegal; this has been affirmed again and again by numerous international human rights bodies including the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. And, when prompted by the flotilla effort, international consensus has been unequivocal in the demand for the Israeli siege to end. There is no question that Israel’s closure policy has had a devastating effect on the occupied people of Gaza. This has also been well documented. The only question is why does the international community of states allow Israel to keep violating the law and rights of the Palestinian people with impunity?

Recent steps taken by Israel to address the concerns raised in the public eye by the Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human initiative, including last week’s announcement of authorization for construction materials for 1,200 homes and 18 schools in Gaza, prove that flotillas work. However, this is not enough, as our effort is not simply about increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza. It is about freedom for Palestinians in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. Calls by some world leaders for flotilla organizers to use “established channels” to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza show a fundamental disregard for Palestinian human rights. The Palestinian people do not want handouts from the international community; rather they demand liberation – a call we must all support.

Therefore, despite intimidation, pressure, and threats of violence from the Israeli government, which is not ashamed to boast that it will use snipers and attack dogs against unarmed civilians, we will sail. We are part of a growing movement, led by Palestinian civil society campaigning for their freedom, that Israel’s strong-arm tactics cannot stop. We call on our governments to do their utmost to protect their citizens as we take to the sea, without weapons, protection or threat of force, in defense of freedom, human rights, and the rule of law. Gaza, we are coming.

Free Gaza Movement


Below is an approximate list of the boats which will be joining the Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human

Country, Name of Boat, Passengers, Journalists:

Spain, Gernicka, 30, 0
France, Louise Michel, 24, 6
France, Dignity, 10, 1
Australia/Belgium/Canada/Denmark/Germany, Tahrir, 48, 9
Italy/Netherlands, Stefano Chiarim, 65, 5
Ireland, Saoirse, 20, 2
European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, , 15, 0
Greece/Sweden/Norway, Juliano, 25, 4
Greece/Sweden/Norway, Methimus #2 Cargo boat, 15, 0
United States, Audacity of Hope, 40, 10

Link to the list

Israeli cabinet meets for second day as it struggles to find a response to looming flotilla crisis


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's security cabinet was to convene on Monday for a second day of discussions on how to stave off an international flotilla intending to breach the naval blockade of Gaza, local media said.

On Sunday, ministers in the forum were told of the military's preparations for the 10-ship convoy which is expected to set sail from Greece later this week.

"Yesterday, the ministers decided not to allow the ships to anchor in the Gaza Strip, although they will be allowed to unload their cargo at [the Israeli port] of Ashdod or the Egyptian port of El-Arish," Israeli army radio said.

"If no weapons or ammunition are found, the cargo will be transferred in its entirety to Gaza."

Public radio said Cairo had already agreed to allow the ships to dock at El-Arish, a Mediterranean port which lies some 50 kilometers west of Egypt's border with Gaza. more

Netanyahu backing down on threat to ban foreign journalists for 10 years


Netanyahu seems to be now claiming, unconvincingly, that he knew nothing about the threats made to journalists sailing on the flotilla ships. So used to bullying Palestinians with impunity, he and his government presumably thought they could do the same with the world's media. Now they are hopefully backing down, but to late to undo the further tarnishing of the standing of the settler state in the eyes of the world.
(Reuters) - Israel said on Monday it was rethinking its threat to bar foreign journalists from entering the country for 10 years if they board a new aid flotilla that plans to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

"(Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) heard about it on the news and asked to re-examine this issue because it's problematic," Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said, referring to Sunday's warning from Israel's Government Press Office (GPO).

"I know the prime minister was as surprised as I was to hear this," he said, without disclosing who had made the decision to deliver the threat. more

Passengers of The Audacity of Hope now confident Greek authorities will allow US boat to leave


Contrary to reports in the Israeli press - see below - activists are confident all ships will indeed be sailing in the flotilla, including the US ship The Audacity of Hope.

For Immediate Release – Monday, June 27, 2011 (US Boat to Gaza)

U.S. Boat to Gaza Responds to Reports Israeli “Lawfare” Group Filed Complaint Delaying Departure of U.S. Boat

Passengers on The Audacity of Hope Now Confident
Greek Authorities Will Allow U.S. Boat to Leave

Contact:
In Athens: Donna Nevel 30-694-266-3713
In New York: Leslie Cagan 845-688-5646

Athens – Passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, said news reports that an Israeli “lawfare” group, Shurat HaDin, is behind the complaint delaying the departure of the U.S. boat from Greece substantiate the Americans’ assertions that the complaint is frivolous. The passengers expressed confidence that Greek authorities will now quickly dispense with the complaint and allow The Audacity of Hope to sail.

On Sunday, June 26, the Jerusalem Post reported: [1] “Sources in the Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) on Sunday took responsibility for lodging an anonymous civil complaint against the American-flagged ship, The Audacity of Hope, which is a part of the flotilla expected to sail towards Gaza later this week, Army Radio reported.” The Israeli group is known for making frivolous legal complaints against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a form of political harassment known in the U.S. as “lawfare.”

“We reiterate that the boat we are leasing for this journey, after its refitting for the voyage to Gaza, was surveyed by a professional surveyor and successfully completed its sea trials,” said Ann Wright, an organizer and passenger on the U.S. boat. “There is no reason for any further delays on this matter, we are ready to sail.”

References:
1. “Report: Group says its responsible for flotilla complaint,” Jpost.com, 06/26/2011 21:45, http://www.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=226663

See below the report on Ynet claiming six ships have been 'detained'.

From Ynet News
Six ships which were slated to take part in the Gaza-bound flotilla are being detained by the Greek port authorities, Ynet learned Sunday night.

Senior officials in Jerusalem have confirmed the report, which followed a Sunday decision by Greece to stop the US vessel "Audacity of Hope" from participating in the sea-bound convoy.

While the organizers of the maritime convoy claim that more than 1,500 activists are set to take part in the initiative, it now appears that no more than seven ships, carrying 200-500 passengers, will participate in the flotilla. more

American Indian Movement activist 'Jimbo' Simmons joins flotilla in solidarity with Palestinians


Article and photo by Brenda Norrell at The Narcosphere

The American Indian Movement and the Free Palestine Movement announced that Bill “Jimbo” Simmons will be a member of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Delegation.

Tony Gonzales of AIM-WEST in San Francisco said Sunday that Simmons, Choctaw, joins the flotilla in solidarity to break the blockade.

"AIM representative Jimbo Simmons, in solidarity with the Palestine Freedom Movement, is among the Gaza Flotilla delegates heading off in an effort to break the blockade,” Gonzales said.

“Watch this action unfold as AIM enters international waters bringing peace and extending its hand in friendship. Our prayers go out with the flotilla and with our brother Bill 'Jimbo' Simmons.” more

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Israel uses over 100 different torture techniques against Palestinian prisoners


From the Palestine Information Center

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Center for Prisoners’ Studies in Gaza has revealed that Israeli security forces developed more than a hundred mental and physical torture methods designed to elicit confessions from Palestinians during interrogations.

Israel uses torture against the prisoners from the moment they are arrested until when they are set free, said CPS director Raafat Hamdouna, condemning Israel’s democracy and human rights claims, and calling on the world community to monitor what is happening and issue indictments against security officers involved in torturing prisoners.

Hamdouna said that everyone who has ever entered Israeli prisons has been subjected to multiple forms of torture. It begins from the time of arrest, when brutality is used to instill fear in the arrestee’s family. The residents of the targeted houses are then usually degraded and assaulted before the subject is taken as prisoner from his home, Hamdouna added.

“That is followed by threats of murder, assassination, home demolition, rape or the arrest of wives, then the covering of the head with a dirty sack, sleep deprivation, the use of injuries [beatings] during interrogation, placing the prisoner inside a refrigerator and standing for long periods,” Hamdouna said, listing many more torture methods.

more